The Parable of the Wise & Foolish Builders

Posted 22 Feb 2012

Follow this link to see these Bible Cartoons on the BC Gallery page, with download & purchase options:
Bible Cartoon: Famous Bible Story – Matthew 07 – Parable of wise & foolish builders

The parable (story/illustration) of the wise & foolish builders can be found in the Bible in both Matthew’s & Luke’s Gospel.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT)
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Luke 6:47-49 (NLT)
47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

Notice that Jesus is quoted as saying “When” (the flood came, the river burst its banks, etc). He did not say “if”, but “when”. I think it is right to conclude that it is only a matter of time before the flood/river/storm, etc comes. I think that Jesus knew that the flood/river/storm, etc would come, one day, sooner or later, against each & every one of us. If we look at our own lives then surely we would all conclude that we have all faced, at one time or another, some pretty bad stuff: incidents, events, problems, situations that test our resolve, push against our beliefs, & threaten to topple our worlds… I know I have faced these things, many times, in the course of my life!

What does the flood/river/storm, etc mean, in real-life terms?
I think it is right to believe that we will inevitably face difficult times, problems, situations, etc. I think that the “flood/river/storm, etc” refers to times of testing, problems, difficulties, disasters, threats, crises, etc. I would not say that the Devil is behind every problem we face… some of our problems are of our own making! Remember that we need to identify those issues/problems which are of our own devising, confess our fault, repent of that & seek God’s forgiveness. Remember what is written in 1 John 1:8-9 (ANIV), ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’

But we (Christians) must also bear in mind that we are opposed by the Devil, & at least some of our difficulties are manufactured or manipulated (made worse) by Satan, in an attempt to destroy us & our faith in Jesus the Christ. Certainly we are opposed by the Devil whenever we step out in faith, or try to implement the words of Jesus in our lives.

On the way we view our particular problems.
Each person faces a different crisis or difficulty. What might be a fairly mundane or trivial difficulty to one person, might be an enormous & terrible crisis to another. E.g. my website not working properly is a real difficulty to me, which saps my enthusiasm, & drags my enjoyment of life down into the gutter. But to someone else, my website’s “hiccups” might seem pretty trivial!

To some degree it seems that what we think can affect our perception of the problem & how large or small it seems to us.

Are we wise or foolish builders?!
In the parables (above) Jesus clearly compares those people who hear his words & act upon them (the wise builders) & those people who hear his words, but do not act upon them (the foolish builders.) The difference between being either a wise or foolish builder is not whether or not we have heard Jesus’ words, since both types of builder heard them! The difference between a wise or foolish builder is whether or not we have ACTED upon Jesus’ words. Matthew 7:24 says “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise…”

Therefore, if we want to be a wise builder: one who will survive the ravages & “storms” of life, then we must 1) hear/read Jesus’ words & 2) act upon them. If we don’t then we fool ourselves, & the “storm” which we now know WILL DEFINITELY COME, will sweep away our “buildings”.

Personally, I do believe in Jesus the Christ; I am a Christian; so I have built my foundations upon the rock (Jesus the Christ.) However, there is another question which occurs to me, which is this:

Are my “faith foundations” adequate (deep enough) to keep my “building” upright when the storm comes?
I hope so! The alternative is: no they are not, & the storm will flatten my little house! My faith will not be enough, I will turn away from Jesus & be lost… God forbid that.

If we am struggling against a particular problem in our lives, & it seems immovable & unsolvable, we may well conclude that our faith foundations are not deep enough & we may worry that our faith (& therefore our lives) are in real danger of being flattened by the “storm.” This raises another important & relevant question:

Can our “faith foundations” be re-dug, or deepened & strengthened, if we become aware of their shallowness & inadequacy, in the face of a “storm”?
This is really important since, put another way is asks: will I stand, or will I fall?

Surely we can conclude that God’s will is that we will stand, come what may. Our primary belief has to be that God is for us. To believe that God is against us is a position that sees God as an ant-bully, not our loving Heavenly Father. This extract from Romans can help us settle what we believe about God…

Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The apostle Paul (who wrote Romans) was therefore certain that 1) God is love, 2) That God loves us, 3) Nothing could separate us from the love of God. That includes all of the “storms” of life.

I think that the depth & extent of our “faith foundations” are not simply determined once & for all, in a single moment of time (at our conversion to Christianity), but that these “faith foundations” can indeed to deepened, extended, & made firmer. Surely the Bible suggest that this is so.

That raises the next question:
How can our “faith foundations” be deepened?
If we are worried that our “faith foundations” are not substantial enough to withhold the storms of life, what can we do? It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the solution appears to be:

1) Pray – Ask God to deepen your “faith foundations”. Commune with God & tell Him about your fears, problems & issues. But don’t focus exclusively on our problems… lest they grow (in our minds at least) beyond their true size & scope. It may even be better to “forget” our problems, when we commune with God & focus on His might, wisdom, power & presence. If we do that, then we will see that our God is infinitely larger than any “life storm” that might come our way!

2) Read the Bible – But when you do, ask God specifically to give you the revelation & wisdom to see what He is communicating to you, in terms of what you really need to know & believe, in order to deepen your “faith foundations” & therefore survive any “storm” that comes your way. Make it a priority to get the Bible revelation & knowledge that you need, to survive & thrive, whatever the weather.

3) Commune with fellow Christians – Talk to other people who share your faith. Pray together. Compare notes! We will likely find that other Christians have faced, or are facing similar problems & we can draw a lot of strength from each other.

One tactic of the Devil is to try to isolate us, so that we feel we are alone. Then he can suggest to our minds that no-one really cares about us, & that we can never solve our problem(s). After that, if we agree with him, we are very vulnerable to further assaults upon our minds from him. We might be tempted to solve our problems without reference to our heavenly Father. We might be tempted into despair or sadness or depression.

Whatever occurs to our vulnerable minds, when we are in the midst of a “storm”, tends to show us what we really believe about God; His sovereignty, His power to help us, His kindness, etc.

It is so easy to think that God doesn’t care about us, because we are in a storm! But refer back to the parable above & you will see that Jesus said “When” (the flood came, the river burst its banks, etc), it is a foregone conclusion that we WILL face storms in our lives… Jesus said so! Life isn’t easy, & the Bible doesn’t say that we will not face trials & difficulties. But out of those trials & difficulties real, honest, powerful faith can come.

Remember what Jesus said…

John 16:33 (ANIV)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Interestingly, this parable of the wise & foolish builders doesn’t directly improve any of our current problems!
The parable doesn’t have a direct, problem-solving value to us, it doesn’t tell us that if we do x,y,z, then our particular problem will disappear. If I am honest, that can cause me some frustration… & doubt! Someone once wrote that we want a general to be standing at the foot our beds, telling us what to do, but, instead, we get someone who says, “Once upon a time”! I think this parable revelation is just one such time. The difference, this time, is that I can see the relevance of that parable to me & my life. I can see that this parable affects our outlook, attitude & responsiveness to God. It improves the overview of our lives. Considering this parable does seem to have a more long-term, attitudinal value. An improved attitude will improve our outlook, & raise our faith in Jesus the Christ & His abilities to help us in both the totality of our lives & the individual, specific problem areas.

I am looking for (& asking for!) a direct, obvious, immediate, problem-solving solution from God. But He has led me to this parable instead. I think that this parable is the solution that God wants me to appropriate for myself. It must be relevant to me & my life, or why else would God lead me to it?!

God is infinitely wiser than we are! His solution(s) will not always seem relevant or immediately obvious. His solutions will not always appear to be directly applicable to our problem, which can be annoying, frustrating, worrying, baffling, etc, initially, or on first inspection! However, God’s solutions are infinitely wiser than our own. And it is not beyond the realm of reason that His solution will be better than ours would be either! God’s parable solution has more holistic, whole-of-life value than merely a quick, simple, problem fix. This parable has many more points of contact with our lives (& therefore their problems!) than may be initially obvious.

Because God’s (parable) solution gets to the heart of our beliefs AND actions (in terms of what we habitually do), I think it actually is highly relevant. It isn’t odd, “airy-fairy” or irrelevant, because it effects an improvement in our attitudes, & it raises our faith in God’s ability to help us, & therefore His ability to assist us, not only (solely) with a particular problem, but much more globally & universally in all problems!

How much more useful & wonderful could God’s solution be?! I/we seek a specific problem’s resolution from God, but He provides an attitudinal challenge & change, which can improve whole realms of our thought-life & bring about a wholesale life-improvement – WOW! That’s great!

Matthew 7:24 says “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise…”
To become a wise builder we need to hear/read Jesus’ words (in the Bible) but then put them into action.

So the last question is this: Which sort of builder will you be: wise or foolish?

Follow this link to see these Bible Cartoons on the BC Gallery page, with download & purchase options:
Bible Cartoon: Famous Bible Story – Matthew 07 – Parable of wise & foolish builders


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